Summer 1980: The Rolling Stones Come to America's "Emotional Rescue"

NEW YORK, NY - CIRCA 1980: The Rolling Stones circa 1980 in New York City. (Photo by Allan Tannenbaum/IMAGES/Getty Images)
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(Allan Tannenbaum/IMAGES/Getty Images)

It was the beginning of a new decade, and everything was changing. Rock and roll had taken a beating from disco and punk, but somehow, the big boys remained standing. Through it all, the Rolling Stones found a way to remain relevant, ending the freewheeling 1970s on a high note: Some Girls, the 1978 album that came chock full of energy, heat and hit songs.

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The Stones were charged up; guitarist Keith Richards had beaten a looming drugs charge in Toronto, and the freedom seem to inspire the band. Hitting the studio, the Stones crafted a slew of new songs, enough for a double-album or more. A clutch of tunes that don't make the final cut find a home on the band's following record, Tattoo You.

Whittled down to 10 tunes, Emotional Rescue was released on June 20, 1980, and it was clear that Mick Jagger and company could still deliver the goods. The album's funky disco title track picked up where "Miss You" left off," cruising up the charts to peak at #3 on the Hot 100 for the week of September 6, 1980. The songs blocking the Stones from #1: Diana Ross' "Upside Down" (#1) and Christopher Cross with "Sailing" (#2).

The album's second single, "She's So Cold," wasn't quite the chart performer as the title tune, although the uptempo track was able to skip its way to #26 in November 1980.

While critics didn't seem to know what to do with the Stones knocking out a solid hit record, the fans responded by snapping up the LP in droves. Emotional Rescue stormed to #1 right out of the gate for the week of July 26, just six days after it hit U.S. record stores. It was the most popular album in America for seven weeks straight, finally dethroned by Jackson Browne's Hold Out in September.

“That is New York, yeah," Jagger admitted to Rolling Stone about the vibe that permeates much of Emotional Rescue. "English people hate it, ’cause they say it’s all disco. That’s what they think it is, you see. It’s just black music.”

Emotional Rescue arrived with a very distinct look, courtesy of artist Roy Adzak and his thermo camera, which captures heat emissions. Designed by Peter Corriston, initial pressings of the vinyl album came with a massive poster featuring more of Adzak's photography. The effect was applied to a promo video for album track, "Where the Boys Go."

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